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What Iowa conservatives will do for their cause

During a break, participants in the Iowa Grassroots Coalition statewide meeting discuss topics such as education and the presidential vetting process. (Sondra Childs-Smith photo/used with permission)

During a break, participants in the Iowa Grassroots Coalition statewide meeting discuss topics such as education and the presidential vetting process. (Sondra Childs-Smith photo/used with permission)

Bad weather couldn’t stop a large number of Iowa conservatives from gathering Saturday afternoon. And what they discussed could have a wide-reaching impact on Iowa politics.

Representatives from a wide array of tea party, property rights, government accountability, convention of states, state nullification, education reform, and Christian ministry groups gathered for the Iowa Grassroots Coalition statewide activist meeting. The event was held in a packed, standing-room-only meeting room at the Dahl’s in Johnston.

Pastor Terry Amann of Walnut Creek Church in Des Moines opened the meeting by reminding the participants that the churches in America have been the greatest agent for change. He encouraged those in attendance to make sure they were attending a Bible-believing church.

“We need to get people into those churches, talk with the pastors, the ministry staff, against this myth of separation of church and state,” he said. “Then, the church needs to get into politics. The church should set the agenda for what the culture should be.”

“If not,” he added, “we will be the generation that saw it all go away.”

The topics covered in the meeting ranged from how the coalition network operates to the vetting process for the 2016 presidential nomination campaign, and included discussions about specific legislation proposed or currently under consideration at the Iowa Statehouse. Afterward, participants went into break-out sessions to discuss individual topics in more detail.

Tammy Kobza of The Eagle Forum and the Sheldon Tea Party Patriots discussed specific legislation the coalition was currently watching closely. The first was the proposed increase in the Iowa gas tax, which the group strongly opposes.

She encouraged those who wanted to learn more about the effort to stop the tax hike to visit www.NoGasTaxIowa.com.

Kobza also discussed a bill that will be offered this week by Rep. Ralph Watts (R-Adel), titled the American Law for American Courts Act. The bill would outlaw the use, as a reference, of foreign laws to influence Iowa court decisions.

Dr. Sam Clovis, who ran last year both as a candidate for the Republican senatorial nomination, and as the GOP candidate for Treasurer of State, discussed the vetting process to find a “true conservative champion” during the 2016 presidential nomination campaign. He unveiled a list of questions that should be asked of each candidate to help voters make a better-informed decision.

Following that discussion, Clovis spoke briefly, but with passion, about the 2018 gubernatorial nomination process, as well. He pledged to be “right in the middle of it,” sounding an awful lot like a potential candidate himself.

Conservative activist Ken Crow of Winterset followed with a brief pitch for his Conservative Leadership Conference, which he plans to host in late July in Des Moines. The goal, he said, is to bring representatives from all of the top grassroots groups together with all of the Republican presidential candidates with a goal of finding the “one true candidate” that the groups can agree to coalesce to support.

Steve Boesen discussed the Convention of States effort in Iowa, calling it the “best way to deal with what’s wrong with our country.” Steve McCoy also discussed nullification, which he said is not synonymous to the convention approach, but is instead “a different solution for a different problem.”

Jeff Moorman, Leslie Beck, and Michele Crystal each took time to discuss education, Common Core State Standards, and the Smarter Balanced testing plan. Moorman, who is with Iowa for Student Achievement, said education is the “last stand against government intrusion and domination.”

Beck, who is with Iowa RestorEd, talked about the group’s effort to restore Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status in education. She also discussed the serious problems Iowa will face if it adopts the Smarter Balanced testing system.

“In 2006, the [Iowa General Assembly], in its infinite wisdom, handed complete control of education to the Iowa Department of Education,” Crystal, also a member of Iowa RestorEd, said. “Switching to Smarter Balanced still has to be voted on, but it probably won’t be a floor vote. It may be tagged onto an appropriations bill.”

Beck and Crystal also spoke briefly about Next Generation Science Standards. They noted there will be four public forums later this month in Waukee, Ottumwa, Dubuque, and Sioux City to discuss the proposal.

They encouraged those who are opposed to the changes to take the survey at IowaRestorEd.com.

To learn more about the Iowa Grassroots Coalition, or to register to join, visit www.iagrc.com. The website includes a calendar of events for conservative grassroots groups, as well as updates on current and pending legislation.